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Handfasting ceremonies have long been a part of Pagan history. Present-day Wiccans still choose handfasting ceremonies as a symbolic way to bind two souls together. While the exchanging of rings is becoming a more popular form of Wiccan wedding symbolism these days, many still opt to have a traditional handfasting ceremony. And this ancient ceremony is most memorable when crafting your own special and heartfelt handfasting cord to represent your unity.
Here’s how to make a handfasting cord for a Wiccan ceremony:
- Choose the material for your cord.
- Choose the color or colors you want to use.
- Measure and cut the cord to 6 feet (1.82 m) long.
- Cast your wishes and intentions as you braid the cord.
- Decorate the cord with meaningful charms.
- Prevent the cord from fraying
- Keep the cord in a safe place until the ceremony.
Whether you are planning a traditional Wiccan handfasting ceremony or simply incorporating the handfasting cord into your modern unity celebrations, I will go over everything you need to know about making a handfasting cord. This article highlights the history of handfasting, the symbolism of the cord, what the ceremony entails, and what it takes to create your own beautiful Wiccan handfasting cord. Keep reading to learn everything you need to know!
1. Choose the Material for Your Cord
The first step in making your own Wiccan handfasting cord is choosing the material you want to use. Materials like ribbon and string are much easier to braid, especially if there are several strands. Some will opt for several strands of cord and choose not to weave them together. You can also combine different materials to make your handfasting cord unique!
- A cord is often used due to its strength and durability. You can find different thicknesses of cords to bind together.
- A ribbon like one from the Winlyn 36-Color Satin Ribbon Set from Amazon.com is used because of the infinite color selection. It’s also easy to work with, and the ribbon is often entwined with other material, like a cord.
- A string is sometimes used because of color selection. It can be brittle, so many strings should be used at once or in combination with a cord.
- Cloth has been traditionally used in many cultures for handfasting. Fabric can allow for patterns and words to be embroidered and can be braided with other materials.
2. Choose the Color or Colors You Want to Use
Color magick can be a part of creating a Wiccan handfasting cord and is often practiced during color selection. Choose colors that are important to you and your partner and ones that symbolize your desire to bind together.
You can learn more about color magick by reading Practical Color Magick (also on Amazon). It’s inexpensive and contains everything you could possibly hope to know about color magick.
Colors that are commonly seen during Wiccan handfasting ceremonies are:
- White: The color white stands for purity and devotion. White also represents peace, making it a common choice for couples looking to unify.
- Black: Black might seem like a dismal color for such a happy occasion, but black represents wisdom, success, and strength.
- Blue: Blue stands for safety and fidelity. Blue is a good color choice as couples begin to journey together.
- Red: Passion, love, courage, and strength are found in the color red. These types of intentions are often the heartbeat behind couples coming together. Red also represents fertility and may be used if the couple want to conceive soon.
- Pink: While the general public often discounts the color pink as something “frilly” or “girly,” it actually has a much deeper meaning in Wiccan handfasting ceremonies. Pink represents romance, happiness, truth, honor, and unity – all things you want in a successful union.
- Green: While green isn’t used as often as the above colors, some people weave a single strand of green into the cord in hopes that they’ll receive all the things the color represents: prosperity, financial security, fertility, and good health.
- Gold: Gold lasts and endures, so it’s no surprise that the color in a Wiccan handfasting cord represents longevity. It can also be a wish for prosperity.
These colors are standard but not the end-all-be-all! Colors like purple (sanctity and sentimentality) or yellow (balance and harmony) may be of significance to you and your partner(s). Include as many colors as you’d like in the handfasting cord.
Some people weave in several colors together, or even one of every color into their cords! Having multiple colors encompasses a wider spectrum colors, correspondences, and good wishes. For an example of what that might look like, check out Handfasting Heaven’s Rainbow Handfasting Cord from Amazon.com. It’s a lovely cord full of good wishes for the future.
3. Measure and Cut the Cord to 6 Feet (1.82 m) Long
The next step is to cut the cord (or whatever material you chose) to about 6 feet (1.82 m) in length. The cord needs to be long enough to wrap around you and your partner’s hands several times. It will shorten even more if you are braiding the cord, so 6 feet (1.82 m) of length gives you enough rope to use.
4. Cast Your Wishes and Intentions As You Braid the Cord
The beauty of making a handfasting cord yourself is the ability to cast whatever wishes and intentions you like into it.
Making Your Own Wiccan Handfasting Cord
If you and your partner(s) are creating your own handfasting cord, select a quiet spot where you can work together in peace. Beforehand, discuss positive intentions and wishes that you want to manifest during your time together. As you create the cord, cast those intentions into the material. This ritual will improve intimacy between you in anticipation of your handfasting ceremony.
Making a Wiccan Handfasting Cord for Others
Some couples wish to have friends, family, or coven members create their handfasting cord for them. If you are making a cord for another couple, speak to them before crafting to discuss their intentions and desires. With their permission, cast positive spells for love and intimacy as you create their cord.
If you are braiding the cord:
- Start by tying a knot with a 4 to 5-inch (10 to 13 cm) tail.
- Continue to make the braid, leaving another knot at the end with another tail.
- Consider alternative styles of braiding, besides the typical plait (i.e. how hair braiding is done)
If the cord is not braided, simply tie knots of both ends, still leaving a 4 to 5-inch (10 to 13 cm) tail.
Purchasing a Handfasting Cord
Sometimes the option to create a handfasting cord is out of the question, especially if the handfasting ceremony is last-minute. Handfasting cords can be found at trusted Wiccan shops or purchased online like this Black Moon Wiccan Wedding Handfasting Cord from Amazon.
Just be careful buying them online, especially if you need them last-minute, as many are custom-made for each individual order. As a result, it may be six to ten days before the cord ships.
5. Decorate the Cord With Meaningful Charms
Another way to symbolically personalize your handfasting cord is to decorate the tails. By selecting beads, tiny crystals, charms with symbols, and perhaps more ribbon, you can add further personalization and intention to the handfasting cord.
Crystals can be charged by the sun and moon to balance masculine and feminine energy and then tied tightly into the tail-end.
You can increase color magick by including beads while you make the braid. Tie in some charms with important symbols, like the pentagram or the Wiccan witch’s knot. If you would like to include more length to the tail, tie in some colorful ribbon. Many options await you!
For example, you can buy this Sterling Silver Wiccan Witch’s Knot Pendant on Amazon. It’s handmade from authentic 925 sterling silver and looks stunning.
6. Prevent the Cord from Fraying
After you’ve put so much work into your Wiccan handfasting cord, and to keep it looking good for years to come, consider sealing the ends to prevent it from fraying. There are many ways to stop a cord or rope from fraying, including cauterization, slicing with a hot knife, splicing, whipping, and end caps.
A comprehensive guide on preventing fray can be found here.
7. Keep the Cord in a Safe Place Until the Ceremony
Now that the handfasting cord is completed, ensure that all intentions and wishes have been cast. Keep the cord in a safe area until the day of the ceremony and ensure the space around the cord is sacred and free of negative energy. The handfasting cord can be left on an altar, or charged crystals can be placed around it in a safe space.
You can also purchase or craft a decorative box to store the cord. Not only will the box protect the cord, but it will make a wonderful keepsake.
Some choose to let the handfasting cord charge in the moon or sunlight if the time allows. There is power and authority given by the sun, and the moon provides healing and a connection to emotions. Both energies are highly beneficial to any couple looking to handfast!
The History of Handfasting
12th Century England
Handfasting was a common term in 12th century England and dictated a couple’s intention for marriage, or that they have made a public announcement that they are indeed married. Even without a proper wedding ceremony, these vows were known to be binding if the couple chose to consummate. But often, if the couple remained abstinent, the vows could be broken like any engagement.
At that time, “handfasting” included clasping the right hand of a partner and verbally accepting each other as husband and wife. It was still expected that the couple would officially become betrothed by a clergy member sometime after handfasting. By the 17th century, a law had passed that required the Crown or a priest to officiate weddings, so handfasting faded into what we now call engagement.
“A Year and One Day” Handfasting in Scotland
In the 1600s, handfasting was quite ordinary in Scotland as a binding vow in both private and public affairs. The lack of clergy officiants meant that it would often take weeks for someone to arrive and officiate a wedding, so handfasting was a way to “bind together” in the meantime. Some couples would choose to have their marriage official when an officiant arrived, while others continued with their lives as a handfasted couple.
Scotland is also known as the birthplace of an attractive handfasting custom; the couple would bind their hands together and promise to unify for precisely one year and one day. If the couple still loved each other, they would remain together and possibly choose to marry officially. If they did not love each other, they would get to amicably part ways with no disdain.
The thought behind this commitment is manifold: Some say it takes a year to know someone honestly; others say it symbolizes a common-law partnership. Others marked this span of time as simply a time to be together until “making it official.” There is not much evidence supporting if the “one year and one-day” handfasting was common or not, but the folklore has lived on, and these handfasting terms are still honored by some today.
Pagan and Wiccan Handfasting
During the Witch Trials that remained in England from the 15th to 17th century, those who practiced magic were targeted and therefore resorted to hiding and meeting in secret. It was known that Magickal handfasting ceremonies took place in private for many who the church would otherwise condemn, like Pagans, Druids, and those who practiced witchcraft.
The Witchcraft Laws were repealed in England during the 1950s, allowing the Pagan community to rise again (this is also known to be when Wicca was birthed). In an attempt to find a unity ceremony outside the modern-day church, Wiccans fell upon the tradition of handfasting and re-introduced the ceremony.
Today, Wiccan handfasting ceremonies are a common choice among those who practice. Some couples choose to be bound together for life and may or may not have the marriage legalized by government standards. Others choose to be unified for a shorter period, like the traditional one year and one day.
The Symbolism Behind the Handfasting Cord
The use of a cord during a wedding ceremony dates back to ancient Celtic times. A rope or ribbon was wrapped around the couple’s hands, symbolizing their pledge to be bound together forever. In fact, this is where we adopted the common phrase “tying the knot.”
Although ring-exchanging became a more popular choice of symbolism, some people include the handfasting cord as a part of their wedding ceremony. For Wicca, the handfasting cord is symbolic, and there is thought and care when choosing or creating the cord. The colors, charms, and even the amount of strands can symbolize many things, and the rope holds the couple’s intentions as they unite together.
The Wiccan Handfasting Ceremony
As I said earlier, the tying of hands is still seen in traditional weddings across cultures and religions. For Wiccans that are looking to unify, a handfasting ceremony takes place.
You may choose a handfasting ceremony instead of a traditional wedding if:
- You are looking for a ceremony outside of “mainstream” organized religions or Christian influence. Most officiants still belong to a religions organization, and so their wedding ceremonies tend to involve scripture or sentiment from religious texts like the Bible. It’s also common for them to be affiliated with a specific church or temple, and they would want to host the ceremony there.
- You do not want gender identity or sexual orientation to hinder your wish to commit. Many places have not legalized same-sex marriage, or gender identity isrestricted to male and female, so handfasting allows a formal ceremony and dedication to take place still. Handfasting ceremonies are also seen in polyamorous families.
- You wish to have unifying terms that aren’t allowed in present-day marriages. Some examples include a shorter period of time, such as “one year and one day” or when a polyamorous family wishes to bind together.
So, what does a Wiccan handfasting ceremony include?
On an important day at an important time, a couple will choose a location (typically outdoors to connect with Wicca beliefs) to hold a ceremony. A circle is made with either rope, crystals, or a combination of both. The officiant and the couple will stand within the circle. Guests will stand outside of the ring, holding hands as a sign of unity and strength.
The officiant will call upon spirits, gods, and goddesses upon request of the couple to witness the ceremony. The couple holds hands as they exchange whatever vows they wish to make.
With the couple’s hands clasped, the officiant (in addition to a family or friend if desired) will tie the handfasting cord around the couple’s hands in a figure eight. Depending on the couple’s wishes, the officiant can speak a binding spell while the couple has their hands wrapped in the handfasting cord.
The officiant will announce the duration of the couple’s unity, whether it is until death or another length of time determined by the couple. The couple can keep their hands bound together side-by-side throughout their festivities of the day, or they can unbind themselves after the ceremony. Couples will cherish their handfasting cord after the ceremony, keeping it in a safe spot for the remainder of their days together
Final Thoughts on How to Make a Wiccan Handfasting Cord
While handfasting is rooted in English history as a means to wed, handfasting was the only option for witches to unite during the Witch Trials. When Witchcraft laws were put to rest in the 1950s, modern Wiccans brought handfasting ceremonies back to life to abstain from Christian influences.
Wicca handfasting ceremonies involve a crafted handfasting cord wrapped in a figure eight around the couple’s clasped hands. Magick is used to bind the couple together for their chosen length of time. The handfasting cord is then cherished throughout their time together. Handfasting cords are symbolic and simple to create!
- eHow: How to Make a Handfasting Cord
- Internet Archive: Wendy Haynes: handfasting ceremony
- Patheos: When Witches Wed: A Hand-Fasting Ritual
- Learn Religions: English Witchcraft Laws
- Learn Religions: Solar Magic, Myth and Folklore
- Study.com: What does the pentagram mean in Wicca?
- Gretna Green: The Tradition of Handfasting
- UK Parliament: Witchcraft
- Psychology Today: Four Reasons Why Paganism and Polyamory Are Linked
- The Knot: Everything You Need to Know About a Handfasting Ceremony